February 23, 2019, Volume 14, Issue 8

Hey everyone,

It was a busy week here at McGinnis Meadows Ranch!

Full moon rising

Brenda and Scott have been on a well-deserved vacation so Anna has been filling in doctoring and supplementing the herd, and of course continuing to trim feet! Scott will return tomorrow and we are sure Yellowhair (his horse) will be looking for him. The whole crew– Dave, Erin, Jenna, and Adrienne have also been filling in as needed- teamwork abounds and it is very cool to see it all in motion.

In horsemanship this week, guests were introduced to things that would help their seat and feel. Riding in halters (we’ll explain why further down!), ground exercises, how to introduce the flag and tarp to a horse and the famous soccer ball were just a few of them…

Riding in a halter here at the ranch is a way to learn how to have your seat and legs have more meaning. As Buck says, you can’t fix a troubled horse by pulling on two reins. Troubled is relative, as it could mean a horse that lacks confidence, or something as subtle as a change in expression through a movement. Riding in a halter also means you get good at being handy with the lead rope because the lead is not tied around to the halter on the other side. You are riding purely with one rein only, and need to get efficient at flipping the lead over your horses head when changing direction.

Des riding client horse Angel in the halter. Notice the softness in the lead.

Without the ability to pull on two reins, you really have to figure out how to get your horse working off of your legs and seat. In the beginning you may feel like a boat without a rudder, but as your seat gets dialed in, the horse really responds to it.

Our guests this week also learned to ride with a feel- where is the horse’s shoulder, are they pushing to one side or the other, changing rate without the rider asking, or dropping their head and front end down through transitions?

They learned how to make corrections in all of these scenarios and their horses became softer and more responsive as the week progressed.

Coincidently, all of our guests were from Utah this week. Ryan and Laura drove in to ride with us. Shayne had Ryan focusing on his seat position and he went from wanting to tip forward through movements, to being able to ride tall in the saddle. It was also something special to see how his feel developed in such a short time. His guest horses Booker and scotch were loving life! His wife Laura also make great progress. By the end of the week she had Roanie so soft that all she had to do was think the move with her body and he was responding to the lightest touch!

Kevin on Brumby

Evelyn and Kevin have been studying Buck’s methods for awhile now and were excited to come to the ranch to learn more. Kevin’s seat improved dramatically through the week and Evelyn worked hard at finding her center of balance while using her legs, changing direction, and getting her horse to walk out.

Lynn, our repeat guest, joined us for another week. Shayne had Lynn and all the guests working on an exercise where he would groundwork the horse on a circle with the rider on his back. They would be able to get the feel of shifting their legs, turning their hips and body to change direction without having to worry about directing their horse. Once they had the idea, these positions transferred over nicely and became more engrained in their riding.

On Friday, halters were replaced with bridles. Ryan commented that he didn’t even think about his hands because of all of the riding he had done in the halter. The reins were more for refinement at this point, because his horse was working well off of his legs. All of the guests were excited about how they could put all the elements they had learned through the week, to culminate with seeing how it can be applied to get a job done. For example, when the soccer ball came out it was easy for them to center their horse so a punt could be made!

Ryan and Laura (far left) were great students! The sign says it all.

At the end of Friday, we unsaddled the horses but before putting them out, guests had a chance to learn how to introduce a flag and tarp to a horse. Ryan and Laura have several horses at home that they will be working with, including some younger ones, so they were really keen to see the progressions. They observed the “do’s and don’ts” and went about working their horses through all of the movements. They even learned how to do the 180 groundwork exercise! All in all it was a fantastic way to end the week.

Shayne with Lynn and Boone, demonstrating from the ground how to use the rider’s legs and seat on a circle

Next week will be a busy one as well. We start our first ever ten-day clinic here and have 6 guests and 4 interns joining us! Ten days will enable riders to be exposed to even more progressions and movements so we are pretty excited about this!

If you are looking for more ways to study this style of horsemanship with like-minded people, we have a couple of spots open for spring and fall horsemanship. And, as luck would have it, we had a cancellation for Buck’s July clinic here at MMR so if this is something you have on your bucket list, give me a call. (406) 293-5000 or email info@mmgranch.net

Happy Trails,


Evelyn riding Chaos with a nice feel.

The boys

Laura getting a nice walk with flexion

The view is always amazing